Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

TOP STORY >> Eyes on the prize, Stubby goes on tour of the district

BY JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: With 10 stops planned by the end of today, Cabot Mayor Stumbaugh launched his campaign for Congress with a speech in Cabot on Monday.

Cong. Marion Berry has failed first district farmers and senior citizens, Cabot Mayor Mickey (Stubby) Stumbaugh told about 35 people assembled to help him kick off a three-day, 10-city tour of the district in pursuit of Berry’s Dist. 1 House seat Monday morning.

With American and Arkansas flags and his “cheese-wagon” van as a backdrop at the plaza behind Cabot City Hall, Stumbaugh re-peated his campaign mantra, putting people before politics.

Stumbaugh said he was not concerned that Berry has name recognition, personal wealth and a lopsided lead in campaign money raised.

“There’s races won all across the country by candidates with less money,” he said.

“Now that the primary elections are over, we’ll see more people come out and donate.”

To be competitive in this race, Stumbaugh has his work cut out for him.

Through May 3, Berry had outraised him $858,346 to $43,493, a margin of 20 to 1. In funds available, Stumbaugh had $4,711 compared to $421,781, a margin of 90 to one.

Stumbaugh said he had gotten good response from the people at the public events he had been attending, such as the Newport Park Fest and Steamboat Days at Des Arc.

“I don’t want to be a congressman, I want to be your representative,” he said.

He signed the Taxpayer Protec-tion Pledge sponsored by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.

“I was one of seven children, born in Beebe but we got here as quick as we could,” Stumbaugh said. When his dad died and his mom had to raise all seven children alone, Santa was a Jaycee for three years in a row. “People want a hand up, not a handout,” he said.

Stumbaugh said that even as a 13-year-old pumping gas at the nearby station, he told people that some day he would be mayor.

When he finally ran, after 15 years as a Little Rock police officer, the incumbent was favored to win with 70 percent of the votes, Stumbaugh said. But by the time the smoke settled, Stumbaugh got 60 percent of the votes and former Mayor Joe Allman lost.

Stumbaugh’s itinerary this week through Wednesday included stops in Stuttgart, Blytheville, Jonesboro, Paragould, Walnut Ridge, Moun-tain Home, Mountain View, Batesville and Heber Springs.

Monday, he accused Berry, himself a farmer, of abandoning the farmers by leaving the House Agriculture Committee for the House Appropriations Committee.

Stumbaugh charged that Berry said eight months ago that he knew 30 years ago that high fuel prices and eventual shortages were on the way.

Then two months ago, he said “there was no way we could have anticipated this,” Stumbaugh said.

“My opponent doesn’t know how to tell the truth, he talks terrible about our president’s….leadership, but we haven’t been attacked since 9-11,” he added.

He added that proportionately, the $38.4 million Berry’s district got was the smallest of any of the state’s districts. While in Arkansas and nationally, about 45 percent of Medicare recipients qualify for part D prescription drug benefits, in the First District, 65 percent qualify, according to Stumbaugh.

Every congressional district has about 600,000 people in it, but of the 435 districts in the U.S., only 24 have more people eligible for those additional benefits than in the First District, he said.

Stumbaugh said Berry opposed the president’s prescription-drug plan because it was sponsored by a Republican.
Berry calls it a giveaway to insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

“I have introduced legislation that would create a Medicare-administered drug benefit with negotiated prices. . . that (can save) taxpayers as much as $40 billion a year in prescription costs,” he said.

Stumbaugh promised to get federal spending under control and noted that Cabot was building a $4.5 million community center “without a new tax.”